WASHINGTON — Veteran left-hander Luis Avilán sustained a tear in his ulnar collateral ligament (UCL), and he is considering how to proceed in his 10th season.
Avilán informed the Nationals that he “felt something in his elbow” after his last outing on Thursday, when he threw 39 pitches across two innings against the D-backs in relief of Patrick Corbin.
“We were shocked,” manager Dave Martinez said Saturday. “He’s got options whether to sit out and see if it heals or, when you talk about a UCL, it usually has Tommy John surgery. So he’s going to weigh his options. I feel awful, as we always do when somebody gets hurt. But we wish him well and wish him a quick recovery, whichever way he decides to go.”
Avilán is one of the relievers who had been called upon to help carry innings when starters Corbin and Stephen Strasburg made early exits this past week. Avilán threw 38 pitches and surrendered six runs in one inning on Tuesday against the Cardinals.
The 31-year-old earned a spot on the Nationals’ Opening Day roster after impressing during Spring Training. Over four appearances, he is 0-1 with a 12.60 ERA.
“You never want anybody to get hurt, ever,” Martinez said. “So that’s tough for me. When you get news like that, it hurts because you feel for the player.”
Washington, which placed Avilán on the 10-day injured list on Friday, recalled right-handed reliever Kyle McGowin from the alternate training site in a corresponding move. McGowin has thrown 2 1/3 scoreless innings over two games this season.
“I kind of like what Kyle’s been doing,” Martinez said. “He’s matured a lot. He’s pitched well for us, so he’s going to get an opportunity to pitch for us until we decide to do something else. But I like him. Plus, he’s another guy that gives us multiple innings if we need it.”
The Nationals stacked their bullpen this offseason, and they have already needed that depth. Will Harris is on the IL because of right hand inflammation. He has been pitching at the alternate training site, but he has not pitched in a game since mid-March in Spring Training. Tanner Rainey also was sidelined during camp because of soreness in his collarbone area, and Brad Hand began the season on the IL as part of COVID-19 protocols.
With the alternate training site in nearby Fredericksburg, Va., the Nationals will continue to call on talent from there to help fill roster voids.
“We’ve got to keep pushing on,” Martinez said. “It takes a multitude of players to win a championship, and we try to keep all those guys that are in the alternate site ready to go because you never know what’s going to happen. We feel like we’ve got guys down there that are building up that can help us.
“For me, you don’t want these guys here ‘til later on in the season, but they’re there. So when somebody goes down, it’s a conversation that we have to have to see who’s going to fit and what we need. But we’ve got some good options down there, we really do.”